Postage stamps and love letters

I’m a couple of days early, but it’s a story I’d love to share with you.

Thirty minutes a week.

That’s all it took.

Forget about careful planning, don’t worry about making all the arrangements.

Just embrace fate, serendipity, whatever faith you rely on.

My sophomore year in college, I returned to my work-study job. Sitting in a chair, selling postage stamps and paper tickets to campus events (did I mention this was the early 1980s? Did I even have to?) in a two-seat nook behind a thick plexiglass window at Northwestern University’s Norris University Center.

The other seat was for the work-study student who cashed personal checks for students (again: the 80s), maximum 50 bucks with a 25-cent surcharge.

That first Friday back, the end of my box office shift overlapped with the start of Debbie’s check-cashing shift by 30 minutes. I didn’t see her again until the next Friday and then, not until the next Friday. Over those few minutes each week I was dazzled by her smile, enchanted by her personality, and grateful for our shared enjoyment of the underground comix in the Chicago Reader.

First date was on October 16th, lunch and a walk along Lake Michigan. I skipped my intramural football game. She looked like Diane Keaton in Annie Hall, but cuter.

Our second date was the homecoming dance.

It went on like that until she graduated and moved on to grad school. I followed her to Ohio, then she followed me to Michigan. We came back to Chicago with our three beautiful children and have been here ever since.

We’ve survived all kinds of hardships, from cancer to the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry, to my need to celebrate anniversaries with appropriately numbered sports jerseys (Greg Maddux, Jim Brown, Walter Payton, Tony Esposito, for you youngsters keeping score at home).

Thirty minutes is all it took.

Happy dating anniversary (this weekend), Debbie!